"An Infidel Body-Snatcher and the Fruits of His Philosophy", Dan Allosso on Atheists Talk

The history of atheists, secular Humanists and other freethinking people is not well known. Freethought Historian, Dan Allosso is out to change that and bring to life people who have advanced society and at the same time lived outside the religious norms of their day. Allosso does this in his book about Charles Knowlton in his book: An Infidel Body-Snatcher and the Fruits of His Philosophy is the story of a freethinker. From the books description: “Charles Knowlton called himself a “free enquirer”—his enemies called him an “Infidel.” Knowlton was also a “Body-Snatcher.” As a medical student, Charles Knowlton stole corpses to dissect. Charles was caught and convicted, and served time in jail.

“The Fruits of His Philosophy” refers to a book Charles wrote in 1831. It was the first medical birth control manual in America, and Knowlton was convicted and imprisoned for that as well—this time with hard labor. Charles was an outsider for most of his life, swimming against the stream of religious and social conformity. This is a true story about why outsiders are important, and what they can achieve.

Growing up surrounded by superstition and hypocrisy, Charles developed an unswerving dedication to finding and telling the truth. If the truth he’d found was opposed by authorities in the church and government, Charles went ahead and told it anyway. This is a true story about the power of integrity.

It’s also an adventure story, full of conflict, drama, humor, and a little horror. Charles Knowlton led an unusual life; it gave him a radical outlook and led him to develop a unique personal philosophy. But it was what Charles did with this outlook and the fruits of his philosophy, that really mattered. This is a true story about how experiences become ideas, and how ideas become actions.”

Please join Scott Lohman as he interviews Dan Allosso on his new book and freethought history.

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"An Infidel Body-Snatcher and the Fruits of His Philosophy", Dan Allosso on Atheists Talk

The Appeal to the Naive Observer

I get rather a remarkable number of comments like this one about a letter I sent to CFI regarding Justin Vacula’s attendance at the Women in Secularism conference this weekend.

Attempting to have him excluded from the event –which is clearly the subtext of the letter you quote here, if it wasn’t why give them a “situation” to “resolve” – will force people like me, who are new to this whole kerfluffle, to believe that you really don’t have ideas worth defending.

Now, setting aside the fact that I, at least, am aware of several ways that conference organizers can limit the disruptiveness of an attendee short of barring them from the conference, and setting aside that I thanked CFI for taking one of those options, there’s a failure of critical thinking in this comment and comments like these that boggles my mind.

Continue reading “The Appeal to the Naive Observer”

The Appeal to the Naive Observer

Make All the Policy!

Do you want to make all the policy? Or to put it another way, are you a public policy person with a dedication to secularism who is looking for a job?

This has been posted elsewhere, on blogs with a much larger readership. However, this is a specialized role, so the more people who see it the better.

American Atheists, Inc., a non-profit and nonpartisan educational and advocacy organization dedicated to the separation of religion and government and the equality of atheists, is seeking a qualified individual to take a leadership role in the development and implementation of its public policy activities. Responsibilities may include:

  • Arranging and taking meetings with Congressional and Administration officials.
  • Drafting action alerts for mass emails to American Atheists members.
  • Collaborating with coalitions of national nontheistic and secular organizations to create
    better outcomes for the nontheistic community in everyday life.
  • Monitoring federal legislative and administrative policies.
  • Monitoring state actions for bills and laws that violate the separation of religion and
  • Developing policy proposals related to secularizing the tax code
  • Preparing comments and other position statements.
  • Other tasks as assigned.

Candidates should have at least 3 years of professional experience in public policy and legislative affairs and have a degree in law or related to public policy as well as knowledge of the Constitution, federal government, and the tax code; excellent analytic and problem solving skills; creativity and leadership; knowledge of the legislative process; ability to work independently; and excellent written and verbal skills.

Well-qualified candidates will have Capitol Hill experience and a demonstrated commitment to the nontheistic community or separation of religion and government issues.

American Atheists’ headquarters is in New Jersey; this position will be based at a satellite office in Washington, D.C.

Salary will be commensurate with experience. Additional benefits include paid sick, holiday, and vacation days; health insurance and dental insurance.

Please send a cover letter, resume, and a writing sample related to public policy or a public policy issue to [email protected]. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until June 3, 2013.

Make All the Policy!

SkepchickCon Prices Going Up

Today is the final day to pre-register for CONvergence, the home of SkepchickCon. Today the price is $60 for an adult. Tomorrow…well, you can’t pay tomorrow. If you don’t pre-register, you’ll have to pay at the door and live with a badge that doesn’t look like all the other kids’ badges. And you’ll pay $100 for the privilege.

This four-day event brings you lots of tasty science and skeptical programming aimed at geek audiences. Skepchick has lined up a bunch of cool guests, largely women to talk about skepticism and science and communicating about both of them. See all the guest bios here.* See the schedule for programming here. Look at all the other cool things happening at CONvergence. Show their anti-harassment campaign some respect.

Then go register while the prices are still a steal.**

*Melanie, who is organizing this year’s SkepchickCon, made a tactical error. While trying to collect headshots and bios from us, she threatened to post drawings of us done by her kids. Here’s mine. I seriously considered using it for their page.

Stick figure drawing of me.
I have no idea what’s going on here, but I like it.

**No one will actually charge you with theft. They may ask you to applaud the horde of volunteers who keep the prices low, though. Do it.

SkepchickCon Prices Going Up

That's What Jolly Meant

As I post this, Minnesota’s marriage equality bill should have just been signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton. To celebrate (again! more!), I bring you this charming picture.

Paul Bunyon looking very bear-ish in cutoff shorts, arm in arm with the Jolly Green Giant. Text: In Minnesota, "Equal" Equals Love.

I retweeted someone sharing this* yesterday, and Kelly Barnhill (you remember Kelly) responded to let us know that this image was produced by friends of hers. Spunk Design Machine created this for their Poster Offensive. Now I’m sad I didn’t know about the poster offensive when it happened.

Still, I can squee over it now. Because, you know, I needed another reason to be happy about this.

* For those not up on Minnesota icons, see this and this.

That's What Jolly Meant

What "Dialogue" Does

Rebecca posted a Twitter rant from Jeff Sharlet at Skepchick yesterday. Sharlet’s topic? This idea that dialogue is always something for which we should strive. He doesn’t exactly mince his words either:

Fetish for “dialogue” assumes those you disagree w/ lack only your insight; assumes they want to “compromise.” As if they have no agency.

Student fetish for “dialogue” a form of technocratic optimism based on free market myth of “exchange” as end in itself.

Rebecca added some choice words of her own:
Continue reading “What "Dialogue" Does”

What "Dialogue" Does

Sometimes We Don't

By now, you may have seen Ophelia or PZ talking about Justicar’s latest “You’re not really sincere because of this stupid thing I just made up and am treating as gospel truth” video. This one claimed that none of us feminist bloggers is really threatened by anything because we haven’t gone into hiding and obliterated all traces of where we live. The proof? Jen tweeted a picture of something near her apartment with an identifiable street sign…or something equally stupid.

Yes, you see, Jen having suffered a depressive episode and basically given up on blogging and on the secular and skeptical movements isn’t enough to demonstrate a negative effect. If her life isn’t destroyed to the point that she’s afraid to tweet something silly she sees on the street, the harassment she continues to receive–months after she’s stopped her activism–isn’t really harassment and no one should complain about it.

I will, for the sake of its utter obviousness, not bother to detail the glaring fallacy. I won’t linger of what a slimy excuse for a human being Justicar is. Instead, I’m going to tell you a little story about my Friday night. Continue reading “Sometimes We Don't”

Sometimes We Don't

Saturday Storytime: The Second Night of Summer

I’ve posted short stories by James Schmitz before, but he’s one of my favorite SF authors. Also, this week reminded me why he’s one of my favorite SF authors. I think this story illustrates it well.

At that moment, up at the farmhouse, a cow horn went “Whoop-whoop!” across the valley.

“Darn,” said Grimp. “I knew it was getting late, with him doing all that talking! Now they’re calling me to supper.” There were tears of disappointment in his eyes.

“Don’t let it fuss you, Grimp,” Grandma said consolingly. “Just jump up in here a moment and close your eyes.”

Grimp jumped up into the trailer and closed his eyes expectantly.

“Put out your hands,” Grandma’s voice told him.

He put out his hands, and she pushed them together to form a cup.

Then something small and light and furry dropped into them, caught hold of one of Grimp’s thumbs, with tiny, cool fingers, and chittered.

Grimp’s eyes popped open.

“It’s a lortel!” he whispered, overwhelmed.

“It’s for you!” Grandma beamed.

Grimp couldn’t speak. The lortel looked at him from a tiny, black, human face with large blue eyes set in it, wrapped a long, furry tail twice around his wrist, clung to his thumb with its fingers, and grinned and squeaked.

“It’s wonderful!” gasped Grimp. “Can you really teach them to talk?”

“Hello,” said the lortel.

“That’s all it can say so far,” Grandma said. “But if you’re patient with it, it’ll learn more.”

“I’ll be patient,” Grimp promised, dazed. “I saw one at the circus this winter, down the valley at Laggand. They said it could talk, but it never said anything while I was there.”

“Hello!” said the lortel.

“Hello!” gulped Grimp.

The cow horn whoop-whooped again.

“I guess you’d better run along to supper, or they might get mad,” said Grandma.

“I know,” said Grimp. “What does it eat?”

“Bugs and flowers and honey and fruit and eggs, when it’s wild. But you just feed it whatever you eat yourself.”

“Well, good-by,” said Grimp. “And golly—thanks, Grandma.”

He jumped out of the trailer. The lortel climbed out of his hand, ran up his arm, and sat on his shoulder, wrapping its tail around his neck.

“It knows you already,” Grandma said. “It won’t run away.”

Grimp reached up carefully with his other hand and patted the lortel.

“I’ll be back early tomorrow,” he said. “No school . . . They won’t let me out after supper as long as those lights keep coming around.”

The cow horn whooped for the third time, very loudly. This time it meant business.

“Well, good-by,” Grimp repeated hastily. He ran off, the lortel hanging on to his shirt collar and squeaking.

Grandma looked after him and then at the sun, which had just touched the tops of the hills with its lower rim.

“Might as well have some supper myself,” she remarked, apparently to no one in particular. “But after that I’ll have to run out the go-buggy and create a diversion.”

Lying on its armor-plated belly down in the meadow, the pony swung its big head around toward her. Its small yellow eyes blinked questioningly.

“What makes you think a diversion will be required?” its voice asked into her ear. The ability to produce such ventriloquial effects was one of the talents that made the pony well worth its considerable keep to Grandma.

“Weren’t you listening?” she scolded. “That policeman told me the Guardian’s planning to march the village’s defense unit up to the hollow after supper, and start them shooting at the Halpa detector-globes as soon as they show up.”

The pony swore an oath meaningless to anyone who hadn’t been raised on the planet Treebel. It stood up, braced itself, and began pulling its feet out of the mud in a succession of loud, sucking noises.

“I haven’t had an hour’s straight rest since you talked me into tramping around with you eight years ago!” it complained.

“But you’ve certainly been seeing life, like I promised,” Grandma smiled.

The pony slopped in a last, enormous tongueful of wet weeds. “That I have!” it said, with emphasis.

It came chewing up to the road.

“I’ll keep a watch on things while you’re having your supper,” it told her.

Keep reading.

Saturday Storytime: The Second Night of Summer